Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist is now out in paperback, chronicling the 17-year journey since Ray Anderson’s 1994 epiphany that changed the course of his billion dollar company, carpet tile manufacturer Interface, Inc. Prodded by a question from customers, the then-CEO went looking for inspiration for a speech to a task for on the environment, and found instead a “spear in the chest” at the realization that he – and the entire industrial world – had it all wrong.
That was before 'green' was the compelling business imperative that it is today (for reference, oil was then $18/bbl), and frankly, the environment was nowhere on Ray's radar. An Interface associate asked Ray to give a speech to a task force that was forming to answer customer concerns about environmental impacts, and though he had not a clue what he would say, he accepted. As the date for the speech grew closer, he began to sweat -- and then Paul Hawken's book, The Ecology of Commerce, landed on his desk. The rest is green business history -- Ray read the book, his outlook was radically transformed, and he gave a speech that would put the petroleum-dependent carpet company on a path to zero environmental footprint.
What's happened in the intervening years has made Interface the poster child for green business, and Ray's become a bit of an eco rock star. He ditched his gas-guzzling Jaguar in favor of a Prius, built an off-the-grid home, and today, at 76, his life is radically different than what he would have imagined for himself at age 60. This is his story.
The book was originally published in 2009 in hardcover format under the title "Confessions of a Radical Industrialist."